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Westfield employee pleads guilty to illegal dumping of sewage

May 25, 2016
Westfield Republican

BUFFALO - The chief operator of the wastewater treatment plant in Westfield, who is still employed by the village, has pleaded guilty to illegally dumping sewage into Chautauqua Creek.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced Friday that Andrew Thompson, 34, of Westfield pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, and a fine up to $25,000 per day of violation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was the chief operator of the wastewater treatment plant for the village of Westfield. On June 12, 2014, a malfunction occurred at the West Side Pump Station located in the village. The pump station was unable to pump the untreated sewage flowing through the station, which resulted in untreated sewage being discharged into Chautauqua Creek. Based on an alarm that was triggered due to the sewage overflow, Thompson was aware of the discharge of sewage into the creek.

The following day on June 13, 2014, as workers were attempting to fix the pump station, the defendant directed them to discharge the untreated sewage pumped out of the pump station into Chautauqua Creek. Thompson did not have a permit issued under the Clean Water Act for the discharge of untreated sewage, a pollutant, into the creek and acted negligently in allowing the untreated sewage to be discharged in such a manner.

The plea is the result of an investigation by agents of the Environmental Protection Agency, under the direction of Vernesa Jones-Allen, special agent-in-charge and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation under the direction of Captain Frank Lauricella.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 16, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.

Westfield Mayor Michael VandeVelde said Thompson is still an employee of the village.

According to the website, operated by the Empire Center which lists the salary of public employees, Thompson earned $56,803 in 2014, the year of the violation, and made even more money - $61,705 - in 2015.

Even though Thompson has pleaded guilty, VandeVelde would not comment on the case, saying he would not discuss the issue until after Thompson is sentenced.



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